At AMD they seem to be accustomed to going after the wake of Intel. They did it for years in the 90s and after a sweet phase at the beginning of the new millennium the company was in the background after a successful strategy and execution by Intel.
Both companies have seen the protagonism of PCs and laptops fading, but that has not stopped them from offering ever more striking solutions. For years AMD has assumed its role of second hand in the market, but the AMD Ryzen could change everything and give us back a competitiveness that we had not seen for years between these two big semiconductor manufacturers.
A historical rivalry
There was a time when Intel gave access to the designs of its processors to AMD. The license allowed this company to manufacture microprocessors that were basically copies of the 8088 and 80286 and used in IBM computers and clones. AMD did not implement technical improvements, but did manage to offer forced versions that worked at higher clock frequencies.
That did not please Intel, who ran into a dangerous competitor. In 1985 the company released its 386, and with them closed the tap of the licenses. That put AMD in a compromised position, reverse engineering the Intel micros to deliver compatible and equivalent editions.
That process was long and expensive : at AMD they did not get a competitor worthy of the 386 from 1985 until 1991, and managed to accelerate a little with the competitor of the Intel 486, which appeared in 1989 and which AMD put a rival in the market in 1993. The firm managed to compete thanks to the competitive prices of its processors, but that strategy had an expiration date: it was not viable in the long term.
That's where the first original AMD design came in, that K5-equivalent Pentium that came a year after the powerful Pentium Pro was available. AMD was still unable to compete at a technical level, but as Ars Technica reports, there was a turning point with the acquisition of NexGen , the company founded by Atiq Raza, rated by AMD CEO Jerry Sanders as "Michael Jordan Of microprocessor design ".
The Golden Age of AMD with its Athlon
That alliance resulted in the K6, a processor that finally appeared at the same time as the Pentium II and that was competitive in both price and performance. That processor demonstrated that AMD could do things very well, and although financial problems besieged the company, AMD managed to create a now almost mythical processor: the K7, which would eventually be christened by a much better known name: Athlon.
That processor, which appeared on the market with a frequency of 500 MHz, was the main competitor of the Intel Pentium and that frantic race for megahertz that made every few weeks appear improved versions of those microphones with even greater frequencies. In March of 2000 the unthinkable happened: AMD was ahead of Intel and was the first to bring to the market a processor at 1 GHz.
Things would continue to go very well for AMD, which by the end of 2003 would launch its 64-bit Athlon 64, a processor supporting 64-bit architectures that would advance significantly to Intel's proposal, which would not come more than a year later.
That was the highlight of a race that soon after mastered Intel. His famous marketing campaign with the slogan "Intel Inside" worked flawlessly, but that added to the problems of AMD - which spent more than it earned, especially in microprocessor production plants - and to the good work of Intel.
The company abandoned in time the architecture NetBurst that did not give for more and changed of third. Instead of going for the megahertz he worked on the relationship between efficiency and benefits. From there were born the Pentium M and, finally, the Core architecture that would set a new era for its processors.
Their tick-tock cycles were starting to run, and with them the company managed to move away from AMD with architecture designs and manufacturing processes more advanced than its competitor. AMD was back in the wake of Intel except perhaps in the server field, where its Opteron had a great impact. In the rest of the AMD ranges it continued offering interesting products, but if one was looking for the maximum performance he had to direct his steps towards Intel products. That could change now.
AMD, do not ruin it this time
The arrival of the AMD Ryzen announced yesterday will take place next March 2 , and it will be then when we can finally assess whether the performance tests confirm what many previous rumors have already advanced: that we are before the new champions of the relationship Price / performance.
In this graph you can see how the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X manage to stand just below the Core i7-6900X. That third place does not fool you: the i7-6900K costs $ 1,050 in stores, while the Ryzen 7 1700X will be priced at $ 389, almost three times less.
The data are even more promising for the Ryzen 7 1800X which costs $ 499 and which according to leaked data would have beaten the benchmark of Cinebench benchmark for non-overclocked processors. Considering that these micros will have a wide margin of maneuver also in this section, the thing becomes especially interesting.
Now you just have to cross your fingers and hope that AMD does not make the same mistakes of the past. In 2007 the Opteron of the Barcelona family had a very serious problem that ended up being solved with trimmed versions in performance, but is that that disaster was repeated in 2011, when the promising Bulldozer architecture did not fulfill what was expected.
This 2017 could therefore be a great year for an AMD that was taking too long in that discreet background. To the AMD Ryzen will be added in a few months the graphics with architecture Vega , and will be then when we can verify if as it seems the company has turned the tortilla and reactivates the battle with Intel and with NVIDIA.
Let's see if it's true, AMD. It was about time.